Bulk String Organizer

If you've got a lot of guitars, then you need a lot of strings.  Hell, even if you only have one guitar, it just makes sense to buy the size you like in bulk.  There are a number of retailers around the web who sell sets and individual strings in bulk for a lot less than you'd pay for the daintily-wrapped little sets like you find at your local music store.  But how do you store that many and keep them organized?



Bulk strings come unwrapped (i.e., not in loops that fit into 3" square envelopes) and grouped in long bags like those shown in the middle of this photo.

The original version of the string organizer.

I started off with just a single four-foot length of 1.5" PVC pipe that held all my strings in these bags.  I added end caps, and it was a convenient means of storing them in the corner of the closet.  The problem with this approach is that over time the pointy ends of the strings tend to poke through their bags and start to wander.  Just about every time I pulled out a bag, one or more of the strings would out and get mixed in with the rest.

I still use the original 1.5" pipe, but only for the nylon classical strings, which are still sorted in the bags.  The classical ones don't poke through as easily, and I don't need to get to these nearly as often since I only have one classical guitar and (at last count) sixteen conventional electrics (not counting the basses).


Parts required:
  • 4" diameter PVC pipe cut to 48"
  • 4" end cap
  • 4" female cleanout and cap
  • 6 x 1/2" diameter PVC cut to 45"
  • 12 x 1/2" end caps 
The bad news about PVC is that you can usually only get it in either two foot lengths or ten feet.  That's about it, so you're going to have a bit left over unless you can find some leftovers, especially with the big tube (i.e., at least you can get two 1/2" pipes from the 10' if you're doing separate ones for each string gauge)..



The twist-on cleanout cap is easier to work with than the standard ends (even though the latter is cheaper) since you can get a vacuum in these and not be able to pull it off.
 

As you can see, I also labeled all the caps from above.  Seriously, you need to label both the individual string tubes and the end caps.  If you mix up the caps, you'll have to compare the strings to get them straight again. 

You don't necessarily have to go with six separate tubes since you can pair them.  Some bulk string suppliers sell sets in three groupings like this: One wound and one plain (i.e., E and G, A and B, and D and high E).  Others sell them individually.  I bought my first batch from stringthis.com and then had to refill my supply of high-E strings from juststrings.com a few years later.

If you do that, you can probably get away with a 3" pipe, maybe even 2"?  I don't know.  Regardless, if you deviate from my design, take into consideration the size of the endcaps, not the diameter of the individual string pipes when determining the size of the overall container.  I've never tested it out, and it depends on who makes the end caps anyway since some differ in shape.






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